Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Donald Trump and places or worship and Coronavirus.
President Donald Trump on Friday called on states to allow places of worship to open immediately and threatened to “override” any governors who do not comply with his demand, opening a new cultural and political fight over when to lift public health restrictions put in place during the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Washington Post;
Trump did not specify what legal authority he has to back up his threat, and White House officials declined to answer questions about what actions he was prepared to take, leaving it unclear how serious the president is about following through on his declaration.
Trump said he is deeming places of worship “essential services” that can operate even when other establishments are closed as a safety precaution.
Restrictions in place in some states have become a point of contention for conservative religious leaders, an important constituency in Trump’s political base.
“If they don’t do it, I will override the governors,” Trump said of states that do not allow churches, synagogues and mosques to open this weekend. “America, we need more prayer, not less.”
Trump’s assertion of authority over how states handle religious gatherings is the latest salvo in his vacillating approach to the outbreak. He has often said governors are in charge of responding to the pandemic only to criticize policies, particularly in states led by Democrats, that he deems too strict even if they match the recommendations put out by his administration.
Public health officials continue to warn against mass gatherings or settings in which people will be in close quarters, and note that religious gatherings have been the source of several outbreaks. Some states put congregations in the same opening category as theaters.
Deborah Birx, a leader on the president’s coronavirus task force, added some caveats to Trump’s blanket demand for churches to open now, including that perhaps some church leaders may want to “wait another week” based on local health conditions.
“I think each one of the leaders in the faith community should be in touch with their local health department so that they can communicate to their congregants,” she said during the same White House briefing.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to answer several questions at a briefing about what legal authority Trump had to “override” governors. Asked what he would do if a state prevented houses of worship from opening, she called that a “hypothetical” and did not answer.